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October 02, 2011

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Sam O. Brown

Glenn,

Any thoughts on the Polanksi discussion currently happening on Dave Kehr's site?

Glenn Kenny

Sam: [Shrug.] Gregg Rickman wants to boycott Landis and Polanski films, that's his business. As he himself emphasized. I used to have a similar feeling toward Landis. But I can't see inside another person's soul, and the law does as it does with or without my participation in it/opinion of it. So a boycott of anything/anyone on my part would serve pretty much nothing except maybe a sense of moral self-satisfaction, which..well, you get the idea. If I'm gonna write about film and films, I'm obliged to deal with the material. Which means I'll see ANYTHING, at least in theory. As for writing, there are a few (a very few) filmmakers I'm restricted from writing about because of some mix of personal and professional involvement/entanglements, and that's a different story. And yeah, I guess that's all I have to say on the matter.

Brian

Hi Glenn,

Hope it wasn't too awkward introducing myself to you at BAM yesterday. In any case, thank you for the write ups, especially on the Tarr film which I have a ticket for on Sunday. Hopefully the audience shares my enthusiasm for this film? I remember seeing The Man From London at the festival in '07, and I suspect there were a lot of people there who thought it was a conventional noir/thriller and or maybe knew who Georges Simenon was. The projectionist missed a reel change about halfway through the film and there were some very unhappy people in the audience when they realized the film was, in fact, not over!

lipranzer

Sam, I must be looking in the wrong place; do you have a link to this discussion?

Victor Morton

"In any event, my biggest problem with Bela Tarr's apparent cinematic swan song is that its perspective doesn't quite jibe with my own above interpretation of the whole equine kerfuffle."

I don't think that it doesn't. Because what happens over the course of THE TURIN HORSE is a gradual breakdown of the entire universe. The horse is the center of the magnificent opening, but gradually recedes from vitality, from utility, and finally from view. (When the family tries to move, they do so without the horse.) In the same way, the family's repetitions (banal though they are) become impossible until by the 5th or 6th time at the very end, they can't even eat a boiled potato. The well of routine runs dry (literally), and can't even be shaken by the two outsiders. The one who offers philosophy (it sounded like Nietzsche though I didn't recognize the specific passage) is shrugged off, and is kinda silly anyway -- his verbosity seeming doubly ridiculous in the context of a film as unwordy as this one. And the ones who offer escape (the gypsies headed for America) are too other to even be seen as a non-threat from the git-go.

Even if Tarr had never said, "this is my last film" TURIN HORSE still has "End of the Universe ... I have nothing left to say" streaked all over it. And around it. And through it.

Michael Adams

lipranzer: You'll find it, naturally, within the discussion of Westerns: http://www.davekehr.com/?p=1143#comments. As long as they're grilling Polanski and Allen, I wonder how Kazin gets a free pass. Don't forget Griffith's racism, fellows.

Victor Morton

Apologies Glenn, I should have read what you wrote more closely.

OK, then her's my question. Doesn't the end of the universe make essentially the same point as a collapse into insanity?

warren oates

Not sure that I'm the one you're thinking of, but since, unlike the straw Plausible above, I very much like JEANNE DIELMAN (and Hitchcock) but, in fact, did espouse something almost like the position you're railing against (in the comments threat on your earlier CARNAGE entry), I'd like to say a few more words about exactly what I meant. Keep in mind, I haven't seen the film and only know the play.

Consider the thriller-fan plausibles' eternal question: "Why don't they just call the cops?" Reasons oft cited: No time. No cellphone (reception). The cops are in on it too. (See the trailer for PREMIUM RUSH, for instance.) A valid question, which any given thriller practically breaks its contract with the audience by failing to address.

"Why don't they just leave?"is the equivalent when it comes to plays about people sitting in one place talking. With THE ZOO STORY Edward Albee became the founder and reigning master of this approach.

In Albee's best work and other good plays following in his footsteps you don't ask this question of the play if: 1) The characters have good dramatic reasons to be there or, failing that, 2) The tale is still so otherwise riveting that the lack of good reasons does not leap out at you.

I've seen many new playwrights stumble on exactly this question and so I was surprised to see such a common beginner problem in a play with the stature of GOD OF CARNAGE.

So I suppose this nitpicking is getting at another valid criticism: The play is too long. As a one-act, distilled to about half the length, GOD OF CARNAGE could have been very good. Part of the reason I feel that the pretexts for staying given later in the play are flimsy is because what's been said and what's transpired by the midpoint of the play seems to have exhausted both the politeness and the possibilities, aside from perhaps a few moments that feel as though they've been deliberately held back for later.

The premise of the play is brilliant. Much of the dialogue is great. I simply don't think it earns the audience's attention for its complete duration.

YND

I've really been looking forward to THE LONELIEST PLANET since word started spreading out of Toronto. But I have to say that the Siren's frustration about the lack of elephant-in-the-room-acknowledgment was the only problem I had with the otherwise fantastic MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE.

That the sister never sat down M(MMM) and pushed for a more detailed (and, increasingly, plausible) explanation for her whereabouts during her missing time than "I had a boyfriend", just got under my skin and wouldn't go away. It undermined the reality of situation and left me feeling like the filmmakers weren't sure how to handle it... so they just didn't.

Looking forward to seeing it a second time. Maybe it won't bother me as much. (And if the Loktev film is operating on a more allegorical level, maybe it won't bother me there at all.)

Kevyn Knox

I personally, was (and still am) mesmerized by The Turin Horse. As others shuffled around me at Walter Reade, I never took my eyes off that goddamn mesmerizing screen of Tarr's.

I believe the film's end-of-everything mentality puts in on par with the auteur's best (Werckmeister Harmonies and Satantango even) and passing the whole fitting-end thing (who knows if it really is Tarr's final film - I would guess not) this tale of a universal breakdown (mental and physical ??) acts as almost a religious experience - which in the end, again puts it on par with the aforementioned pictures.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it to the Loneliest Planet screening(s), so I have no rambling say on that, but it is among those I most desire to see right about now.

Sam O. Brown

Glenn,

Thank you for the reply. I can understand that you may appreciate Gregg being upfront after dealing with the likes of Mr. Kois.

Scott

I loved "The Turin Horse". "Peculiarly gripping" is right. Beforehand, I kept hearing what a slog it was, but I found the film ... well, "hypnotic" probably isn't the right word, but oddly entrancing. It felt like a film out of time; a relic portending a future apocalypse.

Brian, that's funny. A similar thing happened to me when I saw Andrea Arnold's new "Wuthering Heights". I think some people were anticipating a tasteful Masterpiece Theatre experience, and let's just say they clearly wanted their money back. There was some exasperated laughter during "The Turin Horse", especially at each title card (this reminded me of when I saw "Dogville", and people literally clapped at the title card announcing the end of the film), but, on the whole, the audience seemed to know what it was in for.

I've lately been discovering the work of Laszlo Krasnahorkai, Tarr's frequent writing partner, as a novelist, and he strikes me as one of the world's major authors. "The Melancholy of Resistance (the source for "Werckmeister Harmonies") and "War and War" are fantastic books, and I can't wait for "Satantango" to be published in English next year. I'd be interested to learn more about Tarr's and Krasnahorkai's collaborative process. The books and films are very distinct entities, but inform each other in fascinating ways.

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